Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)

Commonly abbreviated as CCHF, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is an infectious disease resulting from a Nairovirus from the family Bunyaviridae. The virus is carried by ticks. CCHF was first recorded in 1944 but it was not until 1969 that CCHF was recognized as the epidemic disrupting the Congo, hence earning its current name.

CCHF is prevalent throughout Eastern Europe but can also be found in parts of Southern Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, central Asia, and China. Hard ticks, particularly from the genus Hyalomma, serve as vectors as well as reservoirs for the Nairovirus that causes CCHF. Domestic and wild animals can both act as amplifying hosts for the CCHF virus.

Humans can become infected from contact with either the ticks or contaminated animal blood. Infectious blood can spread the disease person to person, as well as other bodily fluids. There have been reports of CCHF spreading in hospitals because of improperly sterilized and contaminated equipment.

CCHF comes on very suddenly. Early symptoms include high fever, joint pain, headache, back pain, vomiting, and stomach pain. Other common symptoms include a flushed face, red eyes, red spots on the palate, and a red throat. Some patients have changes in sensory perception, reported jaundice, and mood swings. Approximately four days after CCHF has set in, more symptoms can develop and last up to two weeks. Such symptoms such as severe nosebleeds, persistent bleeding from injection sites, and severe bruising.

CCHF is diagnosed using serological tests, microscopy, and testing tissue samples using immunohistochemical staining to find any viral antigen. Viral RNA sequence can also be identified from tissue and blood samples from patients with a medical history that makes them a likely candidate for CCHF.

There have not been enough studies on the long term complications of CCHF. The recovery process from CCHF is very slow and fatality rates vary greatly by region. Treatment for CCHF involves coping with symptoms and treatment of secondary infections. Haemodynamic support, fluid balance, keeping electrolytes balanced, and oxygenation have benefited patients with CCHF. The CCHF virus does respond in vitro to Ribavirin, an antiviral medication. Some patients have found successful recovery with this drug.

People who work in close proximity and in constant contact with animals are at greater risk for CCHF. People living in endemic areas of Eastern Europe are also at greater risk. Healthcare workers and tourists traveling to such areas should take caution against infectious body fluids and blood.

CCHF can be prevented by the use of insect repellent containing DEET and practicing good hygiene. Healthcare workers and people working with animals should wear protective clothing and gloves. Avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids of both humans and animals. A vaccine is in testing in Eastern Europe, however, a safe and efficient vaccine for the world has yet to be delivered.

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